What is Sublimation Printing?

What is Sublimation Printing?

If you’re familiar with screenprinting or DTG (direct to garment) printing for t-shirts, we’ll explain why sublimation printing for t-shirts is so different.

  • Sublimation printing always starts with white polyester fabric first.
  • It does not work on cotton fabric.
  • Designs are first printed onto specially coated transfer paper, then “sublimated” onto white fabric through heat transfer.
  • Heat transfer is accomplished by the use of a heat press.
  • T-shirts are made by sewing the sublimated parts of the t-shirt together using a sewing machine.
  • Unlike screenprinting or DTG, sublimated t-shirts have colors that are permanent and never peel, crack, or fade.

To help visualize this printing process for you, we’ve created a short video called “Sublimation Printing Explained in 30 Seconds.”

Drawbacks of Sublimation Printing

One of the drawbacks with sublimation printing is that when dark colors are used, seams on the garment might expose some white dots from the puncture marks of the needle.  This is because the colors are printed over white fabric.

Advantages of Sublimation Printing

The main advantage with sublimation printing is that it makes it very easy to print single piece orders only.  This makes it especially suitable for print on demand since there is no need to stock inventory of pre-made shirts.  The other advantage is that you’re able to achieve photo quality, edge to edge printing around the entire shirt, unlike screen printing or DTG which only allow for printing on a limited area on the shirt.

Ready to order your own full sublimation t-shirt?  Check out our print on demand apparel and find something you like!